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Snegurochka, i.e. Snow Maiden, is an indispensable New Year's character from Russian fairy tales, the charming granddaughter of Father Frost, his constant companion and assistant. Sometimes she is depicted as a little girl, and sometimes as a young lady.


This season we decided to help you glide through the Russian winter. The forecasters promise us a "European" winter, meaning it is going to be mild, but the holiday season is nearing, and we wanted to feel the festival glee and to share it with you. So, here is what we have already written about the Russian traditions of celebrating the New Year and Christmas.


Halloween is a very popular holiday which is now celebrated in many parts of the Western world. Of course, Russia, under its cultural and religious traditions, doesn't look like a country where such holiday can be very widespread. But why are there so many vampires and witches on Russian streets on October 31? And what have Russians added to this traditional celebration? Read this article and you'll see. Just don't get scared...


In the modern age of growing interest in eco-houses architects often look for inspiration in the traditions of old national housing. Old Russian architecture is not an exception. So, what was it like, actually? Izba, terem, khoromy what are these? Now you can learn how ancestors of modern Russians built their houses.


Slavic idols - stone and wooden sculptures that embodied Slavic gods - were an indispensable attribute of priestly religious practices of Old Russia. Very few of those idols have come down to us.


Kolt is a traditional Old Russian female ornament of the 11th -13th centuries; it is a hollow metal pendant fastened to the headgear and often decorated with granulation, skan (filigree work), enamel, or patina. Presumably, the inner cavity was used for keeping a piece of fabric moistened with incense.


Old Russian pictorial embroidery (aka "needle painting") is one of the Russian arts and crafts that developed under the direct influence of Byzantine and were widely spread in the Old Rus'. Unlike ornamental embroidery these works depicted "the face" and were made with the use of gold and silver threads, pearls, jewels and gems.


Skan (Filigree) is a traditional Russian handicraft of making openwork or soldered tracery of golden, silver or copper wire, either smooth or plaited into strings, with addition of small silver or gold balls and enamel. The word skan comes from the Old Russian word skat' meaning "to plait".


Sleighing has been a traditional Russian winter entertainment, especially popular during Christmas-tide, Maslenitsa (Pancake week), and saints days.


January the first winter month was once called prosinets (azure-like) in Old Rus, because after the low gloomy sky of December it brought islets of clear dark blue sky. But January was also famous for its blizzards and frosts. Hence is its ancient name of sechen (whipping one). Besides, January also used to be the month of Vasily (Basil) in honor of St. Basil, whose day fell on January, 1st the turning point of winter.


Weddings in Russia were traditionally celebrated in a vivacious and noisy way, with observation of numerous customs, signs, and popular beliefs. The festivities usually lasted for three days, but sometimes could extend to a whole week. Russian wedding ceremony was certainly accompanied with an abundant and plentiful feast, representing ceremonial dishes of Russian cuisine.


The Samovar the Russian tea machine, as it was referred to in Western Europe stands out against all other water-heating devices.


The tradition of fist fighting existed in Russia from times immemorial till the early 20th century. Apart from being a sort of sportive folk entertainment it was a peculiar fighting school that developed skills necessary for defense of the native land.


The Bear a significant factor of Russian culture - appears in many Russian literary works, folk tales, epics, proverbs and sayings, not infrequently acting as a protagonist. The Bear was the emblem of the XXII Olympic Games held in Moscow in 1980.


Everywhere we hear statements that Russians are the nation most intemperate in using of alcoholic drinks and it was allegedly like that from time immemorial. Often we, the Russians, also repeat the affirmations about the "historical predisposition" of Russians to alcohol. However, the history of Russia refutes this myth.


Interior furniture in houses of the nobility and rich merchants was naturally quite different from plain furnishing in humble huts of peasants and craftsmen.


We know our predecessors by their tales, songs and legends, as well as by a great variety of original clothes and household things created mainly by some unknown talents. When looking at ancient holiday garments of peasantry one cannot help wondering at their unusual harmony and power of life emanating from these things and their ability to hand down the visible image of our ancestors and convey their spiritual essence to us.


Day of Ivan Kupala (aka John the Baptist, or Ivan the Herbalist) in the olden days was one of the most sacred, important and the most rackety festivities for the Russian people. All partook in the celebrations: they would gather herbs and flowers, twine wreaths, make bonfires, jump over them and play, bathe in rivers and lakes and perform divinations about ones intended.


One of the major ritual dishes of Russian Easter feast is paskha made of curds and shaped as a truncated pyramid, which symbolizes the Holy Sepulchre. A special sectional wooden mould was traditionally used for cooking this rich festive dish.


The festival of all festivals this is how Pascha was called in pre-revolutionary Russia. In those days it was a custom to make merry at fairs, entertain on see-saws and merry-go-rounds, pay visits, and give and take presents. Yet, the greatest pleasure after many days of Lent was certainly the Easter feast.


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